Strengthening our tourism ties with China


Tourism Minister Peeni Henare recently met his Chinese counterpart, Minister of Culture and Tourism, Hu Heping to reaffirm the 2019 Tourism Cooperation Arrangement between Aotearoa New Zealand and the People’s Republic of China, as part of a business and Māori delegation to China, led by Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

The arrangement, between the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of China, highlights the countries’ cooperation which includes knowledge-sharing, exploring opportunities for cultural exchange and ideas on how tourism can enhance international linkages with other export sectors.

The arrangement was agreed at the end of the 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism, but opportunities to cooperate on tourism priorities were delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to COVID, regular dialogue occurred between officials every year and proved useful for discussing a range of matters, including priorities for our respective tourism sectors, immigration processing and safety of Chinese travellers in New Zealand.

“Our discussions on this visit covered the importance of this arrangement, which emphasises the importance of the two-way tourism relationship. China remains one of our most important tourism markets, and was our second largest international visitor market pre-pandemic, Tourism Minister Peeni Henare says.

“We also covered the re-establishment of regular dialogue between officials and Ministers, where priorities for both tourism sectors were discussed including shared aspirations on sustainable tourism. A lot of our priorities and values in tourism are shared by China such as connecting culture and tourism and protecting the natural environment. In New Zealand, the Government is supporting the Tourism Industry Transformation Plan, which addresses both workforce and environment challenges and opportunities for tourism to thrive in Aotearoa.

“We know Chinese tourists visit Aotearoa New Zealand to enjoy our beautiful natural environment, our unique cultural offerings and our manaakitanga. We also wanted to share our unique Māori culture, with a showcase of our Te Matatini winners, Te Whānau ā Apanui.

“I look forward to the rest of the visit, where we have the opportunity to learn more about China’s tourism offerings and its people, and to have a deeper understanding of their culture.

“I hope Chinese and New Zealanders alike are excited for the future of our tourism relationship and continuing to build our many exciting cultural, economic and people-to-people connections that will be developed.”

 Notes to Editor

2019 New Zealand – China Tourism Cooperation Arrangement (

  • The reopening of the Chinese border is a positive step in New Zealand’s COVID-19 recovery.  The return of Chinese visitors is expected to be gradual as demand for travel grows, visa processing and passport renewals increases and airline connectivity builds. 
  • Pre-Covid, China was New Zealand’s second largest market with over 400,000 Chinese visitors in 2019.  Chinese visitors are high-quality visitors, often travelling in off peak seasons, engaging in a range of activities and cultural experiences, and contributed over $1.7 billion to New Zealand’s economy.
  • Direct airline connectivity out of China is expected to return to around 75% of pre Covid levels in the June quarter of 2023. Air New Zealand is now flying daily to Shanghai.